Blocking knits was definitely one of the most mysterious parts of knitting for me when I started learning two years ago. I remember reading that you have to block things when you’ve finished knitting them, but never really understood WHY. I read about how to do it, but don’t feel that many of the blogs or tutorials I read explained what the point of blocking actually is. However, once you’ve seen some big changes happen through the blocking process, you will soon understand that blocking is magic!
What is blocking your knitting?
Blocking, most commonly referring to wet blocking, is when you soak your knitted piece in lukewarm water for 15-20 minutes, squeeze/spin out the excess moisture and then dry it flat to a specific shape or measurements. There are other ways of doing this, including spraying the finished piece once it’s already pinned down (creates less ‘growth’ in the knitted piece) or some even steam block knitting using an iron.
Why block your knitting?
There are several reasons why you might want to block your knitting, the wet blocking process allows for the stitches to even out tensions and pinning it down allows you to create a certain shape, these can be used together to several desired effects:
- Blocking can straighten out the stitches and even the tension in your knitting. By wetting your piece and pinning it in place to dry, you are relaxing the yarn, then letting it dry evenly. This is allowing it to relax into a more ‘even’ overall fabric. Woolen yarns especially plump up and ‘bloom’ during the blocking process.
- If you are knitting lace, blocking is needed to ‘open up’ the lacework and really let it shine.
- You can use blocking to flatten any curling edges.
- Blocking can take the place of a ‘final press’, if your knitting has been scrunched up in a project bag, once finished blocking can be used to flatten out any wrinkles.
- You can use blocking to make small size adjustments, by laying out the work flat and adjusting for size here and there you can often achieve small adjustments in sizing while wet. Often a knitting pattern will come with measurements to block to.
Bear in mind that you definitely don’t HAVE to block your knitting, I definitely felt like it was something I had to do and took me a while to realise it’s up to me what I do with my knits! Reasons you might not want to block: you like the size of something as it is or it is already a little big. Often during blocking a garment will ‘grow’ a little bit (that’s why we should block our swatches!) but if you think your garment is already a little bigger than you would like then blocking that particular one might not be for you! If you like the stitch pattern as it is, you may want the big definition your stitches are serving you, you might not want to even them out – that’s totally fine! Some very deep colours may bleed during the soaking process, you may prefer not to risk it if you love the colour and won’t be washing the garment much (ie for a shawl). Also, some fibres like acrylic might not respond very much to the blocking process so it’s upto you whether you want to bother!
Ok, so HOW to block my knitting?
This is the first part in a three part series on blocking knits, there are several different ways to block so I highly recommend you look around to see what works with what you have on hand. For example, I often like to block smaller things like ties/hats by pinning them to the foam on top of my ironing board and placing it outside in the sun.
Today, I am blocking a sweater using fork pins and foam mats. These fork pins were sent to me as a PR product from Clover and I have used them to pin my completed Sorrel Sweater to foam mats. These pins are great because they can be pinned flush to the mat, meaning you could steam block them with an iron easily.
Many people who have children might already have some mats like this laying around. You can buy some specifically for knitting which are a bit thicker and have a grid pattern on them which would be useful for measuring, but they are a lot more expensive than the kids ones. I don’t like to recommend Amazon but I did buy my blocking mats from Amazon as I was really worried that the colour from cheaper kids mats might bleed into a light coloured knit. Despite how evil Amazon is, it is useful because there are SO many reviews! I bought these ones because so many people said they used them for blocking and had no problems with colour run.
I soaked my knit in lukewarm for 20 minutes and then gave it a gentle spin in the washing machine on the lowest spin setting. I then laid it out on the blocking mats and pinned it every 1-2 inches. I didn’t need to open up any lace or make this knit any different in size so this block wasn’t very aggressive. This handknit is wool so I am blocking this knit in order to plump up and even out the stitches and give it that finished, almost ‘ironed’ look. After a few hours in the sunshine, it is mostly dry but because the foam mats aren’t absorbent, the underneath of the sweater has some damp patches, I turned my knit over and re-pinned it. A couple more hours later and it’s done!
I’m planning another post on how to block smaller knits, and another on opening up lace. Let me know if there are any others you’d like to see!
For more information you can head over to the Clover website https://www.clover-mfg.com/ and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to drop them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: ⭐️Clover Fork Blocking Pins were provided free of charge in exchange for a review. All opinions are totally my own, and I wouldn’t recommend something I didn’t like!